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As the most populous state in the U.S., California is no stranger to high-risk drivers. In 2020, there were 3,847 fatal accidents across the state, according to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS). In addition, data from the Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I) shows that more than 16% of California drivers are estimated to be uninsured, even though car insurance is a legal requirement in the state.

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You might be considered a high-risk driver if you have an at-fault collision, a speeding ticket, a DUI conviction, a reckless driving charge or a lapse in insurance violation on your motor vehicle record. Getting car insurance as a high-risk driver is not impossible, but you can expect to pay a much higher rate than individuals with a clean record with most auto insurance companies.

Rates for high-risk car insurance in California

High-risk auto insurance in California is almost always more expensive than standard coverage. However, the cost of high-risk car insurance can vary widely depending on driver-specific factors. For example, you might be considered a high-risk driver if you have received a speeding ticket conviction, but a driver with multiple speeding tickets (or one charged with a greater excess of speed above the limit) may pay much more than you. For this reason, it’s helpful for high-risk drivers looking for car insurance in California to obtain multiple quotes from different insurers to find the best rate.

Bankrate collected rates from Quadrant Information Services for multiple insurance companies to help drivers see average rate impacts following different high-risk incidents.

Rates after a speeding ticket

After receiving a single speeding ticket conviction, the cost of high-risk car insurance in California will increase by an average of at least 31%, according to quoted annual premiums from Quadrant Information Services. In addition to a higher insurance premium, high-risk drivers will also typically have to pay several fees and fines based on how much the limit was exceeded. The cost of a speeding ticket in California can range widely, depending on how fast you were driving and whether or not any injuries resulted from the speeding incident.

In the table below, we have included the average cost of car insurance before and after factoring in a speeding ticket. However, keep in mind that if you have more than one speeding ticket on your record, your high-risk car insurance premium could be more expensive than the average rates listed below. For the sake of comparison, however, these auto insurance companies’ quotes may be useful.

California average annual full coverage premium

Car insurance company Rate before a speeding ticket conviction Rate after a speeding ticket conviction % increase
Wawanesa $1,699 $2,221 31%
Geico $1,721 $2,397 39%
Mercury $1,562 $2,240 43%

Rates after an at-fault accident

After an at-fault collision, you will almost always see a sharp increase in your high-risk auto insurance premium, unless you have an endorsement like accident forgiveness to protect your rates from an increase. In California, the minimum rate increase after an at-fault accident is 38%, which is substantial for being on the low end. Depending on the amount of coverage you have, you might also be left responsible for covering the other driver’s losses out of pocket.

The table below breaks down the average cost of high-risk auto insurance based on accident history. However, some car insurance companies charge even higher rates if you have been involved in more than one accident.

California average annual full coverage premium

Car insurance company Rate before an at-fault accident Rate after an at-fault accident % increase
Wawanesa $1,699 $2,344 38%
Geico $1,721 $2,553 48%
Mercury $1,562 $2,942 88%

Rates after a DUI

Getting convicted of a DUI will almost always cause insurers to view you as a high-risk driver. In California, the minimum premium increase after a DUI is 64%, but could go up by 118% or higher depending on the insurance carrier.

Rates can be even higher, depending on the number of DUI convictions on your record. Getting a DUI in California can also lead to other consequences, including hefty fines, jail time, license suspension and mandatory alcohol safety programs.

Many drivers with a DUI are required to carry an SR-22, which is a certificate that verifies you carry the minimum amount of insurance required in the state. You might also find that your insurance carrier will not allow you to renew your policy after receiving a DUI, which means you would have to seek coverage from a high-risk insurer. The table below includes the average cost of high-risk auto insurance for drivers, with and without a DUI conviction applied:

California average annual full coverage premium

Car insurance company Rate before a DUI conviction Rate after a DUI conviction % increase
Wawanesa $1,699 $2,793 64%
Mercury $1,562 $2,801 79%
Geico $1,721 $3,749 118%

Rate for teen drivers

Another factor that can result in high-risk insurance premiums is age. Teen drivers who are newly licensed are generally considered high-risk because they are inexperienced and are more likely to get into accidents than older, more experienced drivers.

If you are a parent who is adding a teen driver to your policy, you typically won’t need a special high-risk insurance policy. However, your rate will most likely increase after adding them, due to the associated risk to insurers. As your teen driver gets closer to their early-twenties, your rate should start to decrease.

Here is a look at the average cost of car insurance with and without a 16-year-old driver added to the policy.

Average annual full coverage premiums for policyholders:

Car insurance company Rate without a 16-year-old insured Rate with a 16-year-old insured
Wawanesa $1,699 $3,137
Mercury $1,562 $3,504
Geico $1,721 $4,356

*Rate reflects the total average annual premium for a 16-year-old driver added to a married parent’s policy

Who is a high-risk driver?

High-risk drivers come in all ages and experience levels. Bankrate defines a high-risk driver as one with at least one speeding ticket conviction, at-fault accident, DUI conviction or lapse in coverage on their driving record. Car insurance companies in California consider drivers with a DUI conviction or with more than one accident or moving violation to be high-risk.

California’s points system for violations is one of the stricter in the country. Many states may suspend or revoke your license after accumulating six points. California could suspend your license after getting four points in one year. Considering that one at-fault crash may cost you three points for driver negligence, your license could be suspended after a second accident or ticket.

How to lower your rate if you’re a high-risk driver

High-risk drivers may have limited carrier options and higher premiums. One way to offset the limited choices is by finding ways to reduce the cost of coverage:

  • Shop around to find the cheapest car insurance company and most affordable policy based on your current needs.
  • Take advantage of as many discounts as possible, such as accident forgiveness, low mileage, student driver or multi-line discounts.
  • Complete an approved, eight-hour traffic school course to keep points off your driving record.
  • Increase your deductible to a higher amount that you can reasonably afford.

Saving as little as 5-10% on your vehicle insurance could translate to hundreds of dollars per year.

Frequently asked questions

Methodology

Bankrate utilizes Quadrant Information Services to analyze 2022 rates for all ZIP codes and carriers in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Quoted rates are based on a 40-year-old male and female driver with a clean driving record, good credit and the following full coverage limits:

  • $100,000 bodily injury liability per person
  • $300,000 bodily injury liability per accident
  • $50,000 property damage liability per accident
  • $100,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury per person
  • $300,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury per accident
  • $500 collision deductible
  • $500 comprehensive deductible

To determine minimum coverage limits, Bankrate used minimum coverages that meet each state’s requirements. Our base profile drivers own a 2020 Toyota Camry, commute five days a week and drive 12,000 miles annually.

These are sample rates and should only be used for comparative purposes.

Incidents: Rates were calculated by evaluating our base profile with the following incidents applied: clean record (base), at-fault accident, single speeding ticket, single DUI conviction and lapse in coverage.

Age: Rates were calculated by evaluating ages ranging from 18 – 60 years old. Rates for 16- and 17-year old drivers were calculated based on married male and female drivers insured together with a 16- or 17-year-old driver added to their policy. Age is not a contributing rating factor in Hawaii and Massachusetts due to state regulations.